09 June 2007

The Harbhajan tragedy

With nineteen five wicket hauls in 57 Test matches, his ability is hardly in doubt. A reading of his stats since 2005 does not make for very happy reading.
His average over this period (37.40) is significantly higher than his career bowling average (29.86). During this period, he has gone through three wicketless Test matches, and barring a sterling effort in the last home series against the Lankans, he has not had any significant impact on the outcome of a series. He also had a truly horrific series in Pakistan: no wickets at an economy rate of 4.38. This was followed by an unconvincing series against England at home, averaging 48. The tour of the Caribbean saw what could be a return to normal service: two five wicket hauls and a series average of 24.

Since then, he has not played in too many matches with Anil Kumble making a return as the spinner of choice where there is not enough room for two. Prior to the Bangladesh tour, it was made clear that Harbhajan was being dropped: not 'rested' like Sachin and Saurav.

Harbhajan's travails over the past few years are the true tragedy of the Chappell reign. The bright part is that he is still only 26, and just entering that phase of a spinner's life - as popular wisdom would have it, when he matures like fine wine, finding new subtleties where previously there were none. What he needs now is a truly supportive coach: someone who will permit him the freedom of the whole range of his artistry.

1 comment:

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Good one.